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Getting appy: mobile expo a first for growing industry

Be Chantra, one of the organisers of Cambodia’s first mobile app expo
Be Chantra, one of the organisers of Cambodia’s first mobile app expo, attends the event on Saturday. Bennett Murray

Getting appy: mobile expo a first for growing industry

Hundreds of students and professionals turned out on Saturday to explore the potential of Cambodia’s fledgling app industry at Mobile Camp Asia 2014, the sector’s first trade show.

Among the crowd at the Institute of Technology Cambodia, which hosted the event, were representatives from Better Factories Cambodia.

The UN program, which works to improve conditions for workers in the garment sector, launched a Cambodian labour law guide app last year for iOS and Android devices.

“We are taking it from the [law] books to the app, because it is easier for law practitioners and employees in the factory to use it,” Koam Tivea, communications assistant for Better Factories Cambodia, said.

In addition to providing a digital anthology of the Kingdom’s labour laws, the app also includes a tool to calculate legally entitled maternity leave and pay, as well as quizzes to test knowledge of the law.

Other apps showcased on Saturday aimed to improve smartphone functionality for Cambodians. Volunteers from Khmer Logical Keyboard, a Khmer-script keyboard app, said that their aim was to make mobile technology more user-friendly.

“I think it’s good for people in Cambodia to use it, because it was designed by Khmer people themselves,” Chun Pahlline, Khmer Logical Keyboard volunteer and student at Norton University, said.

She added that other Khmer keyboard layouts were based on pre-existing templates that did not take into consideration the specific needs of the Khmer script.

While mobile usage in the Kingdom is widespread, and 22.8 per cent of all web activity is conducted on mobiles, according to a 2012 study, the app sector is still in its infancy.

Nonetheless, the industry has grown rapidly over recent years, according to Kheng Vantha, owner of Biz Solutions, a startup that has developed 10 apps for Cambodian clients.

“In the last two years, the number of Cambodian apps has grown from four or five to over 300,” Vanta said on Sunday.

He met more talented young developers at Saturday’s event than companies could employ, he added.

With such promising numbers, Be Chantra, the digital strategist who organised Saturday’s event, has high hopes that app development will continue to grow in the Kingdom.

“We can see the turning point,” Chantra said. “This is the opportunity to develop business ideas.”

Pongsa Metrey Sok, who led the team that designed Better Factories’ app at Nokor Group digital solutions consultancy group, said on Sunday that the trade show was a good way for Cambodia’s fledgling app community to network.

Of the app expo he said: “It is the day we all get together and to express our ideas, express our interest in the market.”

“Also, I see that mobile apps will help Cambodia a lot,” he added.

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